More and more small and midmarket organizations are looking to grow their footprint outside North America. Over half the entrepreneurs I talk with ask me if they should be expanding their business across our borders. Should they begin building their global business today?
I share five ideas that I believe they need to embrace if they want to expand their business beyond their current markets. They are simple to share, but much harder to execute for most global businesses.
Global leaders must adopt a different mindset when leading their organizations to the next level.
The first idea is the global leader must begin thinking more globally. This requires you begin understanding the unique ways businesses operate around the world. You must keep a wider range of considerations in mind when you go global. Many successful global entrepreneurs tell me it took significantly longer to begin generating significant revenue for their products and services.
Going global requires investing resources to better understand where the best markets are for your products and services. Does going global match the vision and purpose for your organization? Are you willing to learn new ways of doing business in other parts of the world? Global expansion may require new capabilities developed in your team. Many global expansion programs fail because the lack of people in their regional markets with international experience.
The second idea is the global leader must leverage technology to scale their organization. Technology is changing how we do business. It is critical to use technology to enable your emerging global business. Is your organization using newer technologies to support your organization’s growth? What challenges have you uncovered while deploying your technology to align with your business strategy? Does your current technology usage align with building a global supply chain? Technology can help you grow and expand your global business.
The third idea is the global leader must understand their organization’s teams and strengths. Going global is a team sport. You must be able to accurately understand what your people do well and what skills and capabilities they need to develop as you grow globally.
Global organizations are learning organizations. They must learn to adapt and adjust very quickly as the organization continues to grow and expand globally. Developing your people faster is a key skill required to be successful as a global organization. To do this you must empower your team members to become great leaders in their own right. People development must be something that is built into your global expansion plans.
Understanding how to make your people more global ready will be discussed in a future blog dealing with emotional intelligence and global leadership capabilities.
The fourth idea is the global leader must be very good at building key partnerships and strategic alliances with many diverse stakeholders. There are many good ways to build a growing global business. For most organizations who are just starting out, I recommend they become very good at building partnerships and joint ventures with distributors and influencers in their new markets.
Global markets are in a constant state of change. Successful global entrepreneurs are very good at creating stronger partnerships at the early stages of global expansion. This not only provides a shorter ramp up time, but provides faster feedback from their new markets. Many times, new products and services struggle because they don’t match customers’ expectations.
Leveraging a partner’s local knowledge and distribution systems can provide sales more quickly and at lower cost than creating your own distribution and marketing systems. A word of caution is that many brands struggle in translation. It is critical for your organization’s success to understand a wide range of values that may be different than your own.
Finally, the biggest challenge I find for most small and midmarket organization’s global leaders is the idea of co-leadership. Most successful midmarket leaders are very good leaders when they are in charge. When they have to start sharing their leadership responsibilities, they may struggle at first. In many cases, they don’t relinquish control to others with different backgrounds or global experience. In future blogs, we share tools to help this go smoothly for first time global leaders.
I’ve shared five ideas that you must embrace if you hope to build a successful global organization. From my experience most of these ideas are easy to understand, but hard to build into your organization’s culture. Aligning culture with your global strategy can increase your odds of success as an international organization.
Next week, we begin sharing how emotional intelligence can help take your leadership skills to the next level. It’s much easier to become a successful global leader if you have a high level of emotional intelligence. I share why and how to develop it in our next series of blogs, starting next week. See you then.